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Snow can’t stop hockey

As inch after inch of snow fell on Grand Lake, the six ice rinks on the lake disappeared Thursday and Friday. The heavy snow blocked traffic, closing the roads and passes that potential hockey players had been trying to drive.

The third annual Grand Lake Pond Hockey Classic was facing its ally turned enemy: Mother Nature.

Town and chamber employees, event organizers and volunteers grabbed their snowplows and snow shovels. For 12 hours, they cleared the ice to save the Pond Hockey Classic.

“I can’t feel my arms, but it’s fine,” said Emily Hagen, director of the Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce, who spent all day Friday shoveling.

The biggest battle was the snow sticking to the ice and turning to slush, which would ruin the ice rinks. Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers, only one rink could not be salvaged.

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The next day, volunteers returned at 7 a.m. to shovel up the rest of what the storm had provided. With blue skies and a sun beating down Saturday, the only evidence of the snowstorm — which left about 3 feet on the lake over the three days — were the enormous piles of snow surrounding the rinks.

“The hardy Grand Lake towns folk mobilized to help out and it was a great day,” event organizer Brian Blumenfeld said.

Players made their way, if a bit late, to the tournament. Of the 50 registered teams, all but six made it to the tournament.

“There were stories all day being told out there by teams that came out of town about what they had to do to get here,” Blumenfeld added. “So many of them did because they’ve played before and made such a great day out of it.”

Dogs, snowmobilers and hockey players ran around the rinks, enjoying the hockey and the weather all day Saturday as music blasted across the lake. The winners of each division won a shiny trophy and a bottle of champagne.

“The tournament is a celebration of hockey and a celebration of Grand Lake,” Blumenfeld said. “All the teams just had a big party out there.”


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